Thursday, December 4, 2003

Housing plan called inclusive

Union's 'Harmony' has green areas, trails

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

UNION - The future of this Boone County city is about to arrive.

A community of nearly 800 homes and apartments featuring planning concepts and residential designs new to Northern Kentucky has been proposed for the heart of Union. The suburb, just south of Florence, appears to be on the verge of a housing boom.

Fort Mitchell-based Drees Homes, one of the nation's most prolific homebuilders, has filed a detailed proposal with Boone County planners for a residential development called "Harmony." The project follows guidelines set out in the Union Town Plan, a long-range document drafted by city leaders and county planners, said Mayor Don Kirby.

"We're very pleased because if this is put into action, Drees will deliver what we were envisioning when we put this plan together," he said. "It's really something that is very different, very progressive. They really have pulled out all the stops.

"There is lots of green space, lots of pedestrian walking paths and bike trails that meet our goal of connectivity within the community," Kirby said.

The project has only just begun weaving through the Boone County Planning Commission's planning process. If approved, construction would not likely begin until late next year, said planning commission Executive Director Kevin Costello.

Drees has options on the property that will be exercised if approval to build the development is granted, Costello said.

Harmony will "set the standard and pace of development along that (U.S. 42) corridor," Costello said.

Harmony would be developed on both sides of the new U.S. 42 being built through the middle of Union. In addition to homes it would feature a lake, community center, aquatic center, walking paths, bike paths, parks and nature areas.

"What Drees has proposed here is the creation of a new neighborhood," Costello said. "This will not be a traditional subdivision of single-family homes. It will be mixed housing with new and different products Drees said it has not built in this area before.

"You'll see patio homes and starter homes vs. more expensive homes, a place that will add a significant population base and set the stage for development of a commercial town center," Costello said.

"Union wants to develop a town center, but you have to have people before you can do that," he said.

Homes will sell for $108,000 to $250,000. The plan has 160 freestanding single-family homes and 340 single-family attached homes along with 272 apartments.

The Drees proposal complies with some very stringent requirements called for in the Union Town Plan, including a ban on cul-de-sac or dead end streets, ornamental outside lighting and porches or steps leading to the front door.

The entire project is designed to be more like a traditional neighborhood than a new suburban development.

"A community is defined as an interacting population of various kinds of individuals," Drees said in its proposal filed with the county. "Harmony is designed to promote that very idea with a wide range of economic, social and age backgrounds. This kind of diversity, coupled with the compact and walkable scale of the neighborhoods, will provide people with the opportunity to interact with their neighbors and participate in community activities."


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